You May Also Like Book Summary - You May Also Like Book explained in key points
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You May Also Like summary

Tom Vanderbilt

Taste in An Age of Endless Choice

4.1 (15 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

You May Also Like by Tom Vanderbilt is a fascinating social science book that explores why we like what we like. Vanderbilt uncovers the hidden influences that shape our tastes, from our peers and culture, to our personal history.

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    You May Also Like
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    Many factors help determine what we like, but most preferences stem from pleasurable associations.

    Picking a favorite color may seem straightforward, but expressing such a preference is complicated, as it is based on many different factors.

    Preferences are both categorical and contextual. While you may treasure your favorite blue sweater, a blue egg would certainly be unappealing. What’s more, even though you wear your blue sweater every weekend, at the office you might prefer to wear only black clothes.

    Taste is also constructed. If you’re asked about a favorite color, movie or song, you probably will pick the first good example you can think of and then come up with a reason to justify your preference.

    Another factor is that humans are inherently comparative. From childhood onward, it is often the case that we simply like the things that other people like.

    And aside from a few exceptions, taste is rarely congenital. The genes we inherit from parents and grandparents don’t inform our individual preferences. When it comes to preferences for certain colors or foods, a better explanation for personal choice is to consider the item’s association with things that are pleasurable.

    For instance, many people prefer the color blue, as it evokes peaceful, pleasant things such as a clear, sunny sky or the ocean.

    One German study found that adults are influenced by pleasures experienced as an infant. In the study, participants tried two different kinds of tomato ketchup: one natural and one flavored with vanilla. Interestingly, participants who were raised on baby formula preferred the vanilla-flavored ketchup. Researchers connected the dots: as German baby formula contains vanilla flavoring, they discovered that participants had unconsciously associated that flavor with the infant pleasure of being fed.

    This kind of association applies to color as well; but like many preferences, it can change over time.

    Children instinctively are attracted to yellow-brownish colors, and researchers believe that this could be because these colors remind of a mother’s nipple. But as children grow older, they lose this preference, as other things that are yellow-brown – such as feces or vomit – have unfavorable associations.

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    What is You May Also Like about?

    You May Also Like (2016) dives into the ever-changing world of taste, or what you like and why you like it. Trying to guess whether a consumer will enjoy a movie or buy a product is both tricky science and big business, as a myriad of different factors influences the decisions you make daily.

    You May Also Like Review

    You May Also Like (2016) by Tom Vanderbilt explores the fascinating world of recommendation algorithms and why we love what we love. Here's why this book is worth a read:

    • It delves into the hidden forces behind the media we consume, revealing the mystery of algorithms and their impact on our choices.
    • By examining the influence of personalization on our culture and society, the book offers profound insights into the way we live and consume information.
    • With compelling anecdotes and research, Vanderbilt uncovers surprising trends and explores the future implications of recommendation algorithms.

    Best quote from You May Also Like

    A favorite color is like a chromatic record of everything that has ever made you feel good.

    —Tom Vanderbilt
    example alt text

    Who should read You May Also Like?

    • Pop culture enthusiasts
    • Social psychologists
    • Marketers or consumers curious about what influences taste

    About the Author

    Tom Vanderbilt is a writer whose work on culture, technology and design has been published in The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone and The Wall Street Journal, among others. He’s also a contributing editor for Wired and Artforum, and the author of the bestselling book Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What it Says About Us).

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    You May Also Like FAQs 

    What is the main message of You May Also Like?

    The main message of You May Also Like is the impact of personalized recommendations on our choices and preferences.

    How long does it take to read You May Also Like?

    The reading time for You May Also Like varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just a few minutes.

    Is You May Also Like a good book? Is it worth reading?

    You May Also Like is worth reading as it explores the psychology behind personalized recommendations, shedding light on how they shape our decisions.

    Who is the author of You May Also Like?

    The author of You May Also Like is Tom Vanderbilt.

    What to read after You May Also Like?

    If you're wondering what to read next after You May Also Like, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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